POLITICAL programmes have become the name of public misery. Programmes in the capital apparently championing people’s cause end up causing immense sufferings to people through traffic congestion and restricted public access. Traffic in the capital was brought to a halt as the Awami League organised a programme in Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital on Saturday. In press statement on Thursday, the city police announced that roads from Shahbagh to Matsya Bhaban and TSC would remain off-limits to traffic for the whole afternoon. The statement did not address how emergency travels, such as patient movement, medical supplies could be ensured during the programme as three major public hospitals are located in or in close proximity to the restricted areas. Only BIRDEM Hospital and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital serve about 9,000 patients a day. On Saturday, critically ill patients and vehicles with medical supplies remained stuck on the road. When asked about the measures for medical emergencies, the police responded that patients too had to wait until the programme ended. The response reveals a disturbing reality in which public inconvenience is not a matter of the authorities concerned. It is the failure of the police that they have not taken adequate measures to ensure smooth traffic and tackle medical emergencies.
Thousands of people suffered delays as they had to endure traffic congestion on city roads because of the Awami League’s programme in Suhrawardy Udyan. In addition to blocking public transports around the venue, the police also placed roadblocks at Bangla Motors, Kakrail Church, Zero Point, Golapshah Mazanr Chankharpool, Plassey, Nilkhet and Kantaban to clear roads for party activists. It is not just people’s nightmare, roads are reportedly unsafe for women during such political programmes. On March 7, when the Awami League organised a programme marking the historic speech of Bangladesh’s founding president Sheikh Mujibar Rahman, at least seven women alleged that they had been physically and verbally harassed on roads by party activists. The police collected evidences substantiating women’s allegation, yet did very little to bring the perpetrators to book. While the law enforcement agencies tried all the means to ensure that the political party in power could successfully hold a programme, they refuses to give the same support to its political oppositions on the excuse of disruption being created in public life. It will, therefore, not be mistaken to suggest that the police act as security force for the political party in power than for people.
The situation at hand reveals the dark nature of Bangladesh’s political culture that singularly idolises political leaders sacrificing the public. It is time that the Awami League-led government stopped holding such programmes that cause severe inconvenience to people at large. The conscientious section of society must raise their voice against such political culture in which the law enforcement agencies are partisanised.
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